R&B superstar R. Kelly has been arrested on federal charges stemming from previous allegations of sexual abuse of underage girls and child pornography, his lawyer confirmed Friday.
Kelly was arrested by federal agents Thursday night while walking his dog in Chicago, his lawyer Steve Greenberg said in a statement.
US media reports said he was charged in a 13-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury that included enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice charges.
Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, already was facing Illinois state felony charges of aggravated sexual assault and was out on bail at the time of his arrest.
The new federal charges arose from the singer’s alleged conduct in both Illinois and New York, his lawyer said.
“The conduct alleged appears to largely be the same as the conduct previously alleged against Mr Kelly in his current state indictment and the former state charges that he was acquitted of,” Greenberg said.
“Most, if not all of the conduct alleged is decades old,” he added.
Kelly has a decades-long history of abuse allegations, especially of underage girls, and was acquitted in a child porn trial over a decade ago.
In 1994 he wed his protege Aaliyah, the late R&B star who was 15 at the time.
Kelly, then 27, had produced the teenage singer’s debut album titled “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.” Their marriage was later annulled, and Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.
Despite unsettling claims against him, the decorated musician — known for hits including “I Believe I Can Fly” — has continued to perform and maintain a solid fan base.
But his fortunes began to shift after the January release of a six-part documentary called “Surviving R. Kelly.”
The documentary, which alleged that Kelly engaged in sexual, mental and physical abuse of girls and women, prompted Chicago prosecutors to publicly seek out potential victims.
After the state charges were filed in February, Kelly spent three nights behind bars and was released after coming up with $100,000, 10 per cent of the $1 million bails set in court.
The sex acts are alleged to have occurred between May 1998 and January 2010, according to prosecutors.
If convicted of the most serious charges, in that case, Kelly would face mandatory sentences of six to 30 years in prison on each count.
In a March interview, Kelly vehemently denied the charges and said he was “fighting” for his life.
“I didn’t do this stuff,” he told CBS News.
“Whether they’re old rumours, new rumours, future rumours, not true,” added Kelly, who became upset and emotional during the interview.
He denied a report by BuzzFeed in 2017 that said he had kept women as virtual sex slaves at homes he owns in Chicago and Atlanta.
Kelly was also briefly detained in March for failing to pay $161,000 in child support payments he owed to his ex-wife and their three children.